Curing Donor Fatigue


Measures organizations can use to ensure donors continue to contribute


At some point, every non-profit has experienced donor fatigue. Generosity becomes scarce or redistributed and philanthropic support is harder to come by.

People innately want to give and be helpful and every non-profit has its own worthy cause (for which they rely, probably heavily, on regular contributions to operate). Naturally, when money is tight post-holiday spending, or the media inundates all electronic devices with incoming messages of compelling calls-to-action, the public’s focus shifts away from organizations they would otherwise passionately be championing.

The holidays will come every year; catastrophic events will occur. The solution is for an organization to put itself in the best position to maneuver through these times. Even better? Implement a few simple, preventative measures that guard against the potential loss in revenue streams.

Automatic Giving

Frequent donors should be set up on prearranged, automatic contributions. It’s savvy from all perspectives. Administratively, the benefits are clear. More so, by securing predetermined monthly/quarterly/yearly donations from people, it prevents the possibility of them redistributing those funds.

It’s much easier for a donor to know that a certain amount of money is already going toward the non-profit they support; they can budget for it and give additionally to other causes if they so choose. Plus, it becomes more complicated and unlikely for them to contact an organization and stop an upcoming payment.

Illustrate the Success

Show donors a current direction or goal that is being achieved with their financial assistance. Tell them the story, starring their donations as the twist in the plot. Be specific, descriptive, and transparent.

This is always a good practice, but it becomes even more critical when resources are divided or stretched. Make it tangible by animating the direct result. If donors can visualize their money in action, they are more inclined to continue encouraging the goal.

Dan Linn writes on Solutions Link, "What better way is there to make someone understand the importance and fruitfulness of their presence than telling them? One of the causes of donor fatigue is being blind to the result of your support. In the same way that you acknowledge that people respond to ‘need’, acknowledge also that they respond to ‘success’. Your donors were hooked by the need to assist in something great, now it is time to convince them that their assistance is improving the situation."

Refresh the Message

People become desensitized to a message. They begin to discredit it, tune it out, or both. Everything can’t be labeled as ‘urgent’ and shrouded in desperation. This gets stale and immunity builds. Keep messaging sincere and crisp while being original, persuasive, and clear.   

Ian Lauth writes on Winspire, "Avoid overly dramatic language that may communicate pressure unnecessarily. Every fundraiser is not “the most critical, vital, and important event of the year!” Save your dramatic statements for if and when it REALLY IS necessary."

Recruit Influence

If a donor simply can’t or doesn’t want to give, be kind and understanding. Never be bullish or use shame or guilt. Circumstances and situations change, and someone’s last interaction with an organization will be the freshest in their memory. They must be left with a positive impression.

Thank them for their time and past contributions and kindly request that they share the need with others through their network. There are plenty of alternative ways to assemble support. By encouraging people to help with spreading the message on social media, a non-profit can quickly broaden their reach.

By taking a few protective and reactive measures, every organization can ensure they continue to receive the contributions they need to keep fighting the good fight. Review and optimize your operations, strengthen the message and bring it to life, create new connections, and develop fresh marketing campaigns. And then, much-needed funds will be anchored when the next wave of donor fatigue strikes.



Morty SilberComment